Cleansing is key. But when it comes to deep cleansing—exfoliating your skin—there are right and wrong ways to do it. And unfortunately, the wrong way can lead to accidentally damaging your skin, not helping it. So today we’re walking you through the steps of safe exfoliation.
1. Start your exfoliating journey with a good base.
And by that we mean—make sure you’re already using a gentle daily face cleanser that is effective in removing dirt, makeup, and excess oil without irritating your skin. If your face wash is already too harsh, then exfoliating will exacerbate that. We recommend milk cleansers, like our Deeply Cleansing Milk, which are emollients that dissolve away impurities instead of strip and dry like many foaming cleansers do.
2. Don’t just scrub your skin away.
Exfoliating is specifically meant to help with desquamation, or the shedding of the outer layer of skin cells on your face. When you’re young, your face does a pretty good job of this on its own. As we age, this process along with many others starts to break down. That’s where products come in!
However, just because you’re trying to remove dead skin cells and cleanse our pores doesn’t mean you have to hard scrub your face until you’re red and burning. In fact, that’s a key sign a product is too harsh for you!
Although they can be clean, we recommend avoiding physical exfoliants like apricot and walnut face scrubs -and body scrubs- because even if they’re broken down, they’re still too sharp and can damage the skin. And naturally, anything with microbeads in it is a no-go, because of their impact on the amount of microplastics in the ocean.
3. Chemical Exfoliation: Melting away the bad.
How about chemical exfoliators? While they may sound like sketchy chemicals, the right AHA and BHA (alpha hydroxy acid ahas and beta hydroxy acid bhas) are often derived from plants like sugar or citrus. These gentle types of exfoliants, work by dissolving the dead skin cells, and with their antimicrobial properties, even help the skin repair any past damage.
This includes ingredients like bromelain, which is an enzyme from pineapple. Just be aware acids may leave you more vulnerable to UV damage, but as we’ve preached many times here, you should be wearing sunblock everyday regardless.
4. How frequently should I exfoliate?
You don’t have to exfoliate every day. In fact, you shouldn’t exfoliate every day. It’s just impossible for your skin to develop enough skin cells overnight to justify doing so. Overdoing it will unfortunately end up harming your skin more than helping it.
The frequency depends on your skin type. If you have normal skin or oily skin, up to three times a week is enough. If you have sensitive skin, then you can limit exfoliating to as infrequent as once a week.
5. Follow with aftercare.
Like all skincare routines, it’s not over until the moisturizer goes on. Because exfoliants can be drying, it’s important that you apply moisturizer, to give your skin a little bit more moisture than usual, especially when you already have dry skin. This way, all the good things you’ve done to your skin will be locked in.